How to Password Protect a Word Document

You can lock and unlock Word docs with passwords to secure them

What to Know

  • Open the document, then click File > Protect Document > Encrypt with Password to get started.
  • You can change the password or remove it entirely at any time but you will need access to the file to do so.

This article explains how to unlock Word documents and the best way to remove passwords from Word documents when you forget what your secret code is.

Instructions in this article apply to Microsoft Word for Microsoft 365, Word 2019, Word 2016, and Word 2013.

How to Lock a Word Document With a Password

Protecting a Microsoft Word document with a password is easy due to the fact that the program itself contains its own free password feature.

Here’s how to use it to lock your doc.

  1. Open the Word document that you want to protect.

    You can also add a password to a new Word file as soon as you create it if you like.

  2. Choose File.

    File highlighted in Microsoft Word in Windows 10
  3. Select Info > Protect Document.

    Word in Windows with Info and Protect Document highlighted
  4. Click Encrypt with Password.

    Windows Info screen with Encrypt with Password highlighted
  5. Enter a password into the field and select OK.

    Password protecting a Microsoft Word document in Windows 10.

    Your password will be hidden from you as you type it so be very careful with what you type.

  6. Enter the same password you just created a second time. This is done to ensure that you know the password that you’re setting and that you didn’t make a spelling mistake the first time. Select OK.

    Password protecting a Microsoft Word document in Windows 10.

    If you haven’t already, write down the file name and its password in a separate file that’s backed up to the cloud in case you forget it later on. Microsoft OneNote or Evernote are ideal for situations like this.

  7. Save your file as usual.

The Microsoft Word document now requires your password to be opened.

How to Unlock Word Documents With Passwords

If you’re sending a locked Word doc to a friend or colleague, you don’t need to worry about teaching them how to manage password protected files as the Word document automatically asks for the password as soon as anyone attempts to open it.

Microsoft Word document password field.

Likewise, if someone sends you a Word document with a password, the program will prompt you to enter the password right away.

Even though you’re the person who added the password to the Word document, the file still asks you for the password every time you open it.

How to Reset or Remove a Password From Word Documents

You can change the password or remove it entirely any time you want, but you need access to the file to do so.

You need the current password to change or delete it.

Here’s what you do to edit the Microsoft Word document’s password.

  1. Open the Word doc as usual and click File.

    File highlighted in Microsoft Word in Windows 10
  2. Click Info > Protect Document.

    Word in Windows with Info and Protect Document highlighted
  3. Click Encrypt with Password.

    Windows Info screen with Encrypt with Password highlighted
  4. Delete the hidden characters in the text field and click OK to remove password from the Word document.

    Changing a password in a protected Microsoft Word document file in Windows 10.

    Enter a new password in the field and click OK to change the Word doc’s password.

What to Do When You Forget the Word Doc Password

If you forget the password for your Word document and you can’t find your record of it that you wrote down when you created it, there is still a way to gain access to the file’s contents.

To unlock Word documents that are protected by a password, you need to use a brute-force password recovery program. Many of these programs contain malware and require a payment to use, and a lot of them no longer work since Microsoft increased its security.

A good free option is the Password Find website, which can unlock protected files directly on the site and doesn’t require the installation of any suspicious software. The unlocking process is also free and easy to use.

  1. Open your preferred web browser and go to this page on the Password Find website.

    Accessing a password protected Microsoft Word document online.
  2. Click Browse and select the password-protected Word document that you want to access.

    The Password-Find website with Browse button highlighted
  3. Click Next Step.

    Password-Find website with Next step highlighted
  4. Click the bullet point next to Remove password and select Next step.

    Password-Find website with Remove password selected

    This option gives you access to the Word file’s contents and is free. The Find password option requires payment and tells you the password.

  5. After several minutes, the process is complete, and you are provided with the option to download the password-free document or view it online as a Google Doc.

    Password-Find options

    You can also click Delete to remove the file from the site’s servers.